As Robert Griffin III gets more games under him, he is starting to gain confidence with his knee and the Redskins are again making a late season run. Last year at this time the Redskins were 3-5 went on to win the NFC East. With a win this week they can get back in the race again, the Vikings meanwhile are going in circles riding a quarterback carousel into oblivion, as Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman have all struggled. The Redskins defense has shown signs of improvement and should be able to score a nice road win.
The Seahawks have pulled a Houdini act in their last two games, winning despite playing some serious lackluster football. Part of the reason, is they could be playing down to the level of their opponents as both the Rams and Buccaneers are both NFL bottom feeders. The Falcons, who beat the Seahawks in the playoffs last week have also struggled and at 2-6 are all but finished this season. I think they have a big win in them and the Seahawks are asking to lose, with this game early and them on the road the Falcons will oblige.
At 3-5 the Ravens hopes for winning a second straight Super Bowl are fading fast, a loss last week in Cleveland has turned this week’s game against the Bengals into a must win. The Bengals come in off an awful Thursday Night loss to the Dolphins, with Geno Atkins lost for the rest of the season to a knee injury. The Bengals have had ten days to adjust, but they have played awful football on the road. The sense here is that the defending champs get a big defensive effort and upend the limping Bengals.
The Bears are coming off a big Monday Night win over the Packers, which launched them back into the NFC North Division race. With the Lions, Packers and Bears all at 5-3 the Bears should get Jay Cutler back for their second meeting with the Lions. The Lions won the first game at Ford Field, but have not won in Chicago since 2004. The spark they got with a win in Lambeau and seeing first place in reach will lead to another big day for the Bears as they keep the Lions Chicago struggles alive.
Last week Nick Foles had a break out performance, tying a NFL record with seven touchdown passes to lead the Eagles past the Raiders in Oakland. Ordinarily this would be an easy win for the Packers, but the loss of Aaron Rodgers is going to be too much to overcome. The Packers have been great at absorbing injuries, continuing to win despite the loss of Clay Matthews and Jeremichael Finley among others. However, losing a quarterback like Rodgers is too much for anyone, especially when all Green Bay has to back him up is Seneca Wallace.
If you did not believe in the Colts before, last week should have been the last proof you needed that the Colts are for real. Down 24-6 on the road, with Andre Luck struggling in the first half the Colts stormed back and buried the Texans once and for all and took over as the clear team to beat in the AFC South. Back home, the only thing they need to guard against is a letdown facing the struggling Rams who clearly in trouble with Kellen Clemens struggling at quarterback.
After their 0-6 start the Giants were a longshot at best to get back in the playoff race, however a favorable schedule has opened the door a crack. The entire NFC East is still playing mediocre football, and another win or two can elevate them right into the thick of things. This week comes the Raiders, coming off a shellacking at home to the Eagles provide the perfect patsy for the Giants, who coming off a bye week should get a big game from Eli Manning to keep their momentum going.
Last week the Steel curtain was turned into the lace curtain, as the Patriots landed a double nickel on the Steelers defense. Calling the performance embarrassing, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin began to threaten the players’ jobs. There is still some veteran leadership here in Pittsburgh and they will rebound to beat the Bills, who no matter who plays at quarterback won’t be able to match what Tom Brady did to them last week in Foxboro, especially if the horrendous Jeff Tuel, who was 4-22 as a starter in college football plays again.
Last week Chris Johnson had a breakout game, as Jake Locker returned to lead the Titans back to .500. With two big tie breakers in their favor, the Titans are in good shape in the Wild Card race. This week they face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who in an attempt to boost their confidence played a local middle school in a flag football game, the Jaguars only lost by ten in their closest game of the season. The Jaguars however, lost Justin Blackmon to a second drug suspension, so much for that improved offense. The road to 0-16 is clear.
With four straight wins, the Panthers are flying high as they have suddenly emerged in the race for the NFC South. However, none of those four wins have come against teams with a winning record, and with the 49ers on the slate this week the Earth is about to say welcome back to the Carolina kitties as they come down with a thud. The 49ers themselves are hitting their stride and getting healthy with Mario Mannigham and Aldon Smith likely both to be activated as they turn their focus on catching the Seahawks in the West.
Last week was the Texans last best chance to salvage their season. For most of the game it looked like they had a season saving win, as they led 24-6 in the third quarter. However, like Gary Kubiak’s mini stroke the Texans suffered a fourth quarter collapse. Its doubtful Kubiak will return to the sideline this week and it is likely for the best, as a loss to the Cardinals will not be good for the Texans ailing coach, as the lost season continues.
If the Chargers are to make a run, this is a game they must have as the Broncos come in off a bye week, without their Coach John Fox who is recovering from heart surgery. The bad news is, that a week off likely gives Peyton Manning a week to heel from his sore ankle. Manning also does not need a coach as he runs the offense all by himself, and the Broncos looking to make a statement get another big offensive performance, to set up a first place showdown against the Chiefs.
The Saints are coming off a bad performance against the Jets and coming back home where they have yet to lose this season. The Cowboys defense even in a win over the Vikings looked terrible as they keep allowing teams to go up and down the field. The Saints employ former Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan who would love nothing more than to embarrass his former team in primetime. This has all the makings of a total meeting inside the woodshed as the Saints win big, with Drew Brees easily passing for 400 yards.
A Monday Night battle of Flori-duh, shines a line on the sorry state of the teams from The Sunshine State. The Dolphins at 4-4 are the only team with a win, at 4-4 as both the Bucs and Jags are winless. However, with the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, it is the Dolphins who are the biggest mess, even with Greg Schiano and team mutiny in town. The Dolphins offensive line was already struggling before losing Richie Incognito and Martin. The facts have yet to finish coming out but no matter what it is bad for the Dolphins who will hand the Buccaneers their first win on a silver platter.